Book review

Author Interview with Joan He

Hey guys ,  its no secret that I’ve been hyped since the day Descendant of the crane cover and blurb released. I had an amazing opportunity to read and review this ARC which you can read here.
And as a double bonus , Joan He agreed to do an interview (its probably me floating with fangirling). Before we get to the interview, here’s a little intro for Joan (though it’s not really necessary)
Joan was born and raised in Philadelphia but still will, on occasion, lose her way. At a young age, she received classical instruction in oil painting before discovering that stories were her favorite kind of art. She studied psychology and Chinese history at the University of Pennsylvania and currently writes from a desk overlooking the city
waterfront. Descendant of the Crane is her young adult debut.

Interview

Thank you so much for agreeing with the interview and its so dreamy to have you in my blog today Joan! To start with, I’m aware that you recently finished college and wrote most of DOTC while you were in college. How did you juggle studying and writing?

Thank you so much for having me Dany!

To keep the juggling analogy going, I will say that most people—not all, but most—can only keep 2-3 balls aloft at one time. As a former college counselor, I’m very familiar with the idea that there are 3 things you can have in college (social life, academics, and sleep) and from those 3, most people can only pick 2.

Upon entering college, I immediately decided which balls to drop. Everyone’s choices here will be different, since we all value different things. Writing became my first priority, and academics my second. I didn’t have a social life, and I kept only 2-3 close relationships which were, at times, struggles to maintain. I joined 1 club, and quit in junior year when I had to rewrite DOTC between submission rounds to editors. Most of my friends had work study jobs to earn some extra cash, a commitment of 10-20hrs per week. I couldn’t take up a job until my senior year of college. I got good grades and graduated with a close to perfect GPA, but I definitely didn’t put academics first because when I selected my major—Psychology—I purposefully chose something that wouldn’t be too taxing, given my strengths and weaknesses. Was it the best major for finding a job after college? No. I’m sure I could have taken on a more practical—and difficult—major, but that would have sucked away my writing time. My experience wouldn’t at all be the same, let’s say, if I were going into medicine and did premed in college.

  • What were the initial struggles you faced with in publishing DOTC?? Are there any tips you can give to budding authors?

So! Many! Struggles! I’m not exaggerating when I say that DOTC was, and probably will forever be, the hardest book not only to write but also to publish. To answer this question fully would probably lead me to writing a whole other novel so I’ll spare you, but as for one tip to authors pursuing this dream…no book is wasted. Every book you write will either help you develop a new skill or solidify your existing strengths. View each book as an exercise, and make sure that something about each project challenges you! If it’s exercise, after all, then you don’t want to be running the same distance/lifting the same weights to the point that it feels easy. I know it can be discouraging when the process feels hard—or gets harder as you go on. But usually, it’s a sign that you’re on the right track to becoming a better writer.

  • As a reader which books do you think more underrated? Can you give us some recommendations?

Yes!! A lot of my favorite YAs are underrated—and older—so let me push them onto you:

ALL OUR YESTERDAYS by Cristin Terrill

A CERTAIN SLANT OF LIGHT by Laura Whitcomb

THE SPACE BETWEEN by Brenna Yovanoff

WITHER by Lauren DeStefano

BIRTHMARKED by Caragh O’Brien

And more recently, THE WAKING FOREST (just pubbed!) by Alyssa Wees

  • Besides Hesina , who were your favorite characters?

You think I loved writing Hesina? To set the record straight I HATED writing Hesina :’) She’s a self-righteous yet insecure little poop. Am I allowed to say that about my children? Will this turn people off from reading? Oh well—I assure you Hesina is pretty readable and doesn’t do too many dumb things, especially considering the position she’s in. But she was a hard one to write—which made writing everyone else a pleasure.

  • The twists of DOTC practically ripped us off. And you mentioned The Ones We’re Meant to find will be more twisty. While I understand you can’t share anything with us right now. Can you give us a little bit info about how you felt when you wrote it or anything else?

Yes! For those of you who don’t know, THE ONES WE’RE MEANT TO FIND is my next (unrelated to DESCENDANT OF THE CRANE) book. It’s a super weird and twisty YA scifi in the style of Black Mirror, about two sisters trying to find each other across the sea, and it’s tentatively slated to come out in late 2020 from Roaring Brook, Macmillan.

I won’t say much about the story itself because I’m TERRIBLE at describing my own books, but I will say that I wrote this book the summer of 2017, right before DOTC went on round two of submission to editors. I drafted it pretty quickly and it was a lot of fun to write—a different experience from DOTC which really hurt my brain :’D

  • Being a poc person with a Chinese Game of Thrones book , what kinds of books do you want to see more of in the book Industry?

Honestly? I just want MORE. More books. More voices. More experiences. I’ve noticed that people read 2-3 Asian fantasies, for example, and feel like it’s a trend. But we deserve to get the same coverage as Western fantasies. We deserve to have more royalty fantasies, low fantasies, contemporary fantasies, adventure fantasies, urban fantasies, etc. And that’s just fantasy alone! We deserve every shade of book in every genre. It’s only then that we will start attaining true intersectionalism.

  • As a writer, what is the most important or struggling part in the writing process in your opinion?

A super important part—and one that I’ve struggling with—is reading. Reading widely in your genres, and reading closely at the line level and story structure level, is probably the best way to sharpen your craft without buying a craft book or attending a class. It’s hard though, I’ve found at least, to keep the joy of reading alive the more you write. Hard to find the time, for one, and hard to turn off the critic in your brain since you’re so used to taking apart your own story that when encountered with another’s, you can’t help but analyze. I’ve definitely read less in recent years, and I’ve found it harder to get into books. Still working on getting this remedied.  

  • Given the choice , might we expect  more Chinese fantasies from you?

YES! I have sooo many Chinese fantasy ideas in me—including a fully drafted, genderbent version of Romance of the Three Kingdoms which follows a female Zhuge Liang (for those of you who know the classic). But we’ll have to see—publishing is full of twists and turns and I’m not in full control of which books get pubbed and when. But be assured that the stories exist ☺

  • As an ending note , DOTC will be ripping plenty of hearts in April 2nd. Do you want anything to say for the people who will read DOTC or any coping strategies we might use?

It’s not sad! This will forever be my mantra! IT’S NOT A SAD BOOK GUYS. I have sadder stories yet to come! Reserve your tears!

But also trust no one. Question your beliefs and assumptions. If you don’t see it coming…that’s ok. I intended it to be that way mwahahaha.

8 thoughts on “Author Interview with Joan He”

  1. Fantastic interview! I have already mentioned many times that I want to read this book so bad, this just made it worse!

    Need the descendant of the crane fix asap!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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